Tester: Wartime Contracting Commission’s findings ‘are deeply troubling’

Senator says bipartisan recommendations serve as a roadmap forward

(U.S. SENATE) – U.S. Senator Jon Tester today called for serious changes in how the United States uses wartime contractors like Xe, formerly known as Blackwater.

Tester spoke at a Senate hearing on the findings and recommendations made by the bipartisan Commission on Wartime Contracting.  The Commission’s report details the extent of waste, fraud and abuse of Iraq and Afghanistan reconstruction contracts.

The Commission estimates that up to $60 billion in taxpayer money was lost to waste and fraud.

“The Commission’s findings are deeply troubling,” Tester said.  “Montana taxpayers work too hard to hand over their paychecks to contracting companies taking advantage of the wars to line their own pockets.  I’m going to make sure that Congress follows through on the Commission’s recommendations so that the government no longer lets some contractors amass massive profits while our troops are fighting and dying.”

The Commission recommends that federal agencies phase out private security contractors for certain functions, use risk factors in deciding whether to award contracts, and create a permanent inspector general to examine wartime contracts.

It also says that agencies must improve coordination and guidance for using security contractors.

Tester said that he couldn’t imagine why any member of Congress would stand in the way of saving taxpayer money by reforming how the government handles wartime contracts.

“It’s long past time that we bring accountability and change to the way American contractors do business for this country,” Tester said at today’s hearing.  “In the private sector, if I’ve got a contractor that owes me money, he’s not getting another contract.  That’s just the way it is.”

Tester cosponsored legislation to establish the Commission in 2007.  It was modeled after the successful Truman Committee, which saved taxpayers $15 billion during World War II.

Tester recently identified millions of dollars wasted in Afghanistan on a workers’ compensation insurance program thanks to a vigilant National Guardsman from Montana.

The Commission delivered its final report to Congress on August 31, 2011.  It is available online HERE.